NJ Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill

TRENTON – The state Senate passed a bill to legalize marriage for same-sex couple today by a vote of 24-16.

“Today, we have an opportunity to be again on the right side of history and take our rightful place in being a leader among the fifty states. We can join New York, Vermont, Washington, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa by approving Marriage Equality,” said state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union). “The sanctity of marriage has not been endangered by Marriage Equality in those seven states. In fact, it’s been enhanced by allowing more loving couples to get married.”

Gov. Chris Christie is expected to veto the legislation, should it also pass in the Assembly. He favors placing the issue before New Jersey voters through a public question on November’s election ballot.

Supporters of the bill, who believe that civil rights should not be subject to a popular vote, do not appear to have the votes to overturn the expected veto. The margin of passage today fell three votes short of the 27 that would be needed.

While today’s vote went more or less according to party lines, two Republicans voted “yes” – Sen. Jennifer Beck (Monmouth) and Sen. Diane Allen (Burlington.) Two Democrats – Sen. Ronald Rice (Essex) and Sen. Jeff Van Drew (Cape May) voted no.

“I am proud that New Jersey’s State Senate has taken this important step toward providing marriage equality for same-sex couples,” U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) said after learning the results of the vote. “Marriage equality is one of the most significant civil rights battles of our time, and we cannot stand by while same-sex couples are treated as second class citizens in our state. It’s time to allow same-sex couples to marry and provide the same legal protections for all of New Jersey’s families.”

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